Apr 21

April 21.10: Chat Room, Game #15 vs. Cubs: An Ollie P. encore?

With a victory tonight against the Cubs, the 6-8 Mets would win their third straight game and first series of the season.

On the mound is Oliver Perez, who is coming off a solid start last Friday at St. Louis when he gave up one run in 6 1/3 innings.

Perez worked quickly and got ahead in the count in that game, spotting his pitches low and on the corners. It was how the Mets have wanted him to work for years.

He’ll be backed by this line-up:

Jose Reyes, SS
Luis Castillo, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Jason Bay, LF
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Ike Davis, 1B
Rod Barajas, C
Angel Pagan, CF
Oliver Perez, LP

Offensively, Wright and Bay have been strikeout machines lately and Francoeur’s hot start is now a memory. On the upside, with four hits Reyes might be getting into a groove.

Ryota Igarashi was placed on the disabled list today with a strained left hamstring (he was replaced by Manny Acosta), which leaves the eighth inning to Pedro Feliciano and Fernando Nieve.

Apr 20

April 20.10: Chat Room, Game #14 vs. Cubs: Staying on a roll?

Jerry Manuel said he’ll keep an eye on Mike Pelfrey tonight as he his pitching for the third time in six days in an effort to give the Mets two straight wins for the first time this season.

Last Thursday he pitched seven shutout innings in beating the Rockies and Saturday worked an inning of relief in the 20-inning marathon against St. Louis.

Remember how woeful the Mets were the first week of the season? Well, that’s the Cubs right now. This is the team the Mets should get well against.

Here’s the line-up for the Mets (5-8):

Jose Reyes, SS
Luis Castillo, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Jason Bay, LF
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Ike Davis, 1B
Angel Pagan, CF
Henry Blanco, C
Mike Pelfrey, RP

SOME THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS: Will be interesting to see how Reyes responds from his day off. First thing I thought of when I heard he requested last night off was a thyroid reaction. … I’m waiting for Wright to take off at the plate. Some tentative at-bats lately. … Also waiting on Bay. He hit the ball yesterday, but still looking for the long ball. … Francoeur needs a hit to snap out of a slide. Those long games have sent many players into slumps. … Looks like to the center field platoon is no more. … Blanco is with Pelfrey because they worked so well the last time. Could it be permanent?

NOTE: I am taking my class tonight so I’ll miss the start of the game. Should be back around nine. I hope you guys pick up the flow.

Apr 20

April 20.10: Mets Notes: Let’s not get carried away.

Easy does it.

It was only one game and two hits, not enough for them to be fitting him for a statue or anything.

The Ike Davis Era got underway in fine fashion last night, bringing with it an electricity missing during the first homestand. There was a lot to like about Davis’ composure and patience.

For example, on the first hit he worked his way back from down being 0-and-2 in the count.

While there was a lot to like, remember it is only one game, far too early for the Wally Pipp analogies.

As much as I enjoyed watching Davis, the real buzz for me can with Jon Niese, who showed poise and guile working out of trouble.

Niese’s outing was the Mets’ fifth straight solid performance from a starting pitcher, one strong cycle through the rotation. As encouraging as watching Davis was, the bigger picture was another strong game from the rotation.

It has to be that way because wherever the Mets go this season is contingent on their pitching.

I’ll embrace Davis, I want him to do well, but he’s not the final piece to the 2010 puzzle.

NOTES: We should see Jose Reyes back in the lineup tonight. Tired, he asked for the night off to rest his 0-for-17 slide. Since coming back from the DL, Reyes is batting .154, which should shelve this No. 3 talk for awhile. … GM Omar Minaya said Carlos Beltran will go to Colorado this week to be re-examined.

Apr 19

April 19.10: About Last Night: Maine will get another start.

GM Omar Minaya said he’d take one out of three in St. Louis. He got it, but is anybody really happy? They could have won all three with a little bit of hitting. Then again, they could have been swept, too.

John Maine was better last night, but the qualifier is he was better in comparison to his previous two rotten starts. Adam Wainwright pitched a complete game last night with 107 pitches. Maine was lucky to get through five with the 115 he threw.

Maine worked out of trouble in each of the first four innings, which showed some improvement, but gave up a three-run homer to Colby Rasmus in the fifth. How often does a manager pull a pitcher winning 3-0 after four scoreless innings?

If he had to do it all over again, that might have been the way for Jerry Manuel to go last night.

While Maine on a whole was a disappointment again, he showed enough to where he’ll get the ball again. He threw his fastball more, and the more he throws it the harder it will become. He’s still throwing it in the low 90s with little movement. It should get better.

The one thing the Mets have to take out of their 2-4 road trip to Colorado and St. Louis was a definite improvement in the rotation collectively. What they got received from their five they’ll take every time.

Of course, they’ll still come away 2-4 at best because they offense is non-existent, especially with runners in scoring position, hitting .155 on the trip.

Moving Jose Reyes to the three hole isn’t the answer, because he’s not getting on base anyway. Nobody is hitting, including now Jeff Francoeur, whose 10-game hitting streak has fallen into an 0-for-9 slide.

Jason Bay? Well, he’s still on the team, but you’d never know it by his production.

“I’m living what they are watching,” Bay said in St. Louis last night. “It’s just one of those things you go through… I’m just going through a slump.”

Although Bay struck out four times Saturday, he did scorch a line drive that was robbed of a hit late in the game. Given he finally made contact, I thought he would have played last night.

A lot of pressure will be put on Ike Davis when he arrives, presumably tomorrow, as he was in the starting line-up today in Buffalo.

I’m encouraged by the pitching on the trip, but also tempered because it is one time through the rotation. We’ll see what we get from Jon Niese tonight against the Cubs.

Apr 18

April 18.10: About Last Night: Will it spur the Mets?

Not all games are created equal, either in consequence or drama. Yesterday’s 6:53, 20-inning endurance test sent Jose Reyes’ spikes and bat to the Hall of Fame, an indication of something special.

There are dozens and dozens of numbers spawning from this game, and an equal number of snap shot memories, beginning with Alex Cora’s sprawling catch into the stands to rob Matt Holliday (pictured).

Take away that catch, and maybe you take away 10 innings of history.

They will be talking about last night for years, but what remains uncertain is how the victory will play out this season for the struggling Mets.

The attributes of grit and resiliency, patience and perseverance, hustle and clutch, all surfaced last night – for both teams – and for the Mets they had been qualities lacking.

“This game] was big for us…We needed to win this game,” Jerry Manuel said. “They were fighting all day to stay in the game. Hopefully, that’s a sign of things to come for us…We were able to hang around, hang around, hang around…Lay on the ropes for about nine innings and then waited for all the other guys to get out of the game.”

It’s an oversimplification to suggest the Mets have turned around their season, but it is not a reach to say last night might be the spark they needed.

When the Mets were in Colorado they took in the Nuggets came. It was to be a bonding exercise. They promptly lost two of three to the Rockies. It’s impossible for a team to bond more than in a game like last night.

The starter, Johan Santana, pitched seven brilliant innings, and 13 innings later was on the bench in uniform wearing a rally cap. Every Met, save Oliver Perez, played and contributed something. Perez, in fact, was ready to pinch hit.

The bullpen gave up one run in 13 innings, but despite all the walks issued it continually refused to yield. Three times in extra innings the Cardinals left the bases loaded.

The offense didn’t get its first hit until the sixth inning, and consisted of strikeout after strikeout from David Wright and Jason Bay, until Jeff Francoeur and Jose Reyes delivered sacrifice flies.

The Cardinals had a half-dozen chances to win, but the Mets found a way to deny them until like a child confronted with a math problem, figured out a way.

It remains to be seen whether the Mets found an answer they can build on, but the opportunity is there.